Book Review: Blue Labyrinth

Blue Labyrinth

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

A long-buried family secret has come back to haunt Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast…

It begins with murder. One of Pendergast’s most implacable, most feared enemies is found on his doorstep, dead. Pendergast has no idea who is responsible for the killing, or why the body was brought to his home. The mystery has all the hallmarks of the perfect crime, save for an enigmatic clue: a piece of turquoise lodged in the stomach of the deceased.

The gem leads Pendergast to an abandoned mine on the shore of California’s Salton Sea, which in turn propels him on a journey of discovery deep into his own family’s sinister past.

But Pendergast learns there is more at work than a ghastly episode of family history: he is being stalked by a subtle killer bent on vengeance over an ancient transgression. And he soon becomes caught in a wickedly clever plot, which leaves him stricken in mind and body, and propels him toward a reckoning beyond anything he could ever have imagined…

I’ve long been a fan of Preston and Child’s books — and this one is no exception.

For readers not familiar with Preston and Child, their Pendergast novels often have a supernatural element that is later revealed by Pendergast to be a trick, designed by a diabolical killer.  Sometimes it’s some scientific abnormality that on the surface appears to be supernatural.  Some plots have been a little of a stretch over the years and others have come together quite well.

There are a few aspects that set this apart from their previous Pendergast novels.

Blue Labyrinth is the first in a long time that doesn’t seem to have a supernatural element to it.  (Perhaps it’s the first Pendergast novel without a supernatural element — I really don’t remember another one.)  However, this book does not lack for want of the supernatural.  Preston and Child have once again crafted an interesting and intriguing book.

Blue Labyrinth is also the first in a long time (or perhaps first ever) that doesn’t rely on Pendergast solving the mystery and saving the day.  The subtle killer mentioned in the blurb above acts against Pendergast and renders him useless in the final chapters of the book.  This allows for the other lead characters, as well as some secondary characters, to shine.  Constance, D’Agosta, and Dr. Green all manage to piece the antagonist’s plans together resolve the plot.

However, the one thing that is not different is the somewhat overly complicated plot.  The complex mysteries of the Pendergast novels often turn the books into page-turners — as this one truly was.  But as I finished the book and closed the cover, I began to wonder if the plot was needlessly complex.  I recall feeling that way about the previous book (White Fire).  The plot (in both this book and White Fire) was tied up nicely at the end with a thrilling resolution, but there are little pieces that, in hindsight, make me wonder if everything was really necessary.  The above blurb mentions a gem in the stomach of the deceased — it was an interesting plot development that led Pendergast to some intriguing places… but having finished the book and knowing how the pieces fit together, I wonder if it was really necessary to do all that… or if there would have been a way to make the book just as interesting and complex, but with all the parts making sense.

Still, though, it was a great read — and I’m already looking forward to their next Pendergast novel.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Reading

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